National Assembly Deputy Speaker Elvira Kovacs took part in the conference dedicated to the introduction of the leave no one behind tool into legislative and strategic acts of the Republic of Serbia, organised by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue.
The following is the National Assembly Deputy Speaker’s speech in its entirety:
"Ladies and gentlemen,
The famous American anthropologist Margaret Mead claimed that the first sign of civilization is a healed femur. A healed fractured femur is evidence that someone cared for the wounded person, bandaged the wound, carried them to a safe place and cared for them during recovery. Healed bones were not found where the law of the strongest still ruled.
Therefore, civilization does not begin with technological discoveries, but with the moment humans begin to help another in need, when they show empathy and solidarity. Solidarity and empathy mark the beginning of human civilization.
Our generation’s sustainable development goals are and must be solidarity development goals, because this is a question of universal values and the universal principle of humanity is actually the fundamental tenet of the 2030 Agenda – leave no one behind.
And that is why when we talk about the principle of leaving no one behind, we are basically talking about the policies of solidarity and tolerance, we are talking about respecting rights and the right to be respected.
The principle that no one should be left behind, in all languages in the world, continues in the sentence that human dignity is inviolable.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Serbia's obligations in terms of its European Union accession process and implementation of the 2030 Agenda are complementary, work on the realization of sustainable development goals is part of Serbia’s process of Europeanization and an integral part of the work of at least 12 National Assembly committees.
Respecting the principle of non-discrimination, equal chances and opportunities, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia follows goals 8, 10, 16 and 17 of the Agenda, and in the acts it adopts respects the principles of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, dignified work and reducing inequality.
In drafting laws, strategic and planning documents, the National Assembly follows the principle of no one left behind, taking into account the interests of marginalized, invisible, vulnerable categories of the population.
The parliamentary elections held on 3 April this year gave meaning to the many years spent on working to achieve sub-goal 5.5 on the Agenda, to ensure the effective participation of women at all levels of decision-making in political life, with 87 women members of parliament being elected into the 13th legislature of the National Assembly, making up 36.55% of the total number of MPs. The 13th legislature of the National Assembly also comprises 13 MPs members of 5 national minority parties.
In the last five years, ladies and gentlemen, the standing delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union has been the carrier of the National Assembly's activities related to the implementation of priority sustainable development goals, and in September 2017, based on the activities of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a Focus Group was formed to coordinate activities within the National Assembly and among the competent committees, in charge of developing mechanisms to control and supervise the process of implementation of sustainable development goals.
On two occasions, in 2018 and 2019, public hearings and regional seminars were organized in the National Assembly, the First Voluntary National Review was presented, a self-assessment and evaluation of the self-assessment of implementation was carried out, and at the beginning of 2021, the National Assembly Focus Group was invited to access the worldwide network of parliamentarians committed to achieving the sustainable development goals, gathering over 70 MPs from 36 countries and five regions of the world. This network is a global platform for the exchange of information and good parliamentary practices concerning the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The invitation to the National Assembly Focus Group to join the worldwide network is the result of many years of work: initiatives have already been formulated to stress in every relevant law that it complies with the sustainable development goals; starting from 2019, when discussing the budget, special attention is paid to making sure funds are allocated for sustainable development goals, organizing a campaign on sustainable development goals to be conducted at the national level about promoting cooperation with local authorities is also being discussed.
The priority task is to work with young people, to work on raising awareness of the importance of the principle of leave no one behind, raising awareness of the importance of solidarity and respect for the principle of equality and non-discrimination.
Of course, the pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental protection, are areas where no one should be left behind, and the National Assembly will take special care to make sure that this principle is implemented in Serbia’s highest long-term development planning documents, in the development plan and spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
If we go back to Margaret Mead’s thesis, that civilization was born at the moment when man showed compassion and solidarity, then the end of civilization occurs at the moment when solidarity, respect and appreciation of human dignity disappear. We have learned what happens when we reject the principle that every life is worth living and trample the principle of inviolability of human dignity. As we have learned that the sustainable development of the whole community can only be achieved if no one is left behind and if respect for basic human rights, the rights of man and citizen is ensured."